My thoughts are out of control

There is a constant debate about how many thoughts we are meant to have per day. Some have said it is up to 70,000 per day. That’s a lot of thoughts. It’s about 3000 per hour or 50 per minute, just under one per second. This is however constantly under debate.

We can often feel overwhelmed by our thoughts, the internal chatter. We are so often dwelling on the past or worrying about the future which means we are less likely to be in the moment. However many thoughts we have, we do have a lot and many are re-cycled from the day before although it is a fact to say we can’t stop our thoughts. It is a natural function of the mind. Thoughts are generated by visual triggers, by feelings, by sounds and our attention can be lost in the details of a situation.

The mind can appear to want to live in the past and it will do this if we allow it. This is partly because of its need to protect us and is therefore assessing all situations based on what has had happened before. The response we get is associated with the information stored within although it is quite common that what is stored is a variation of the situation. It is a personal interpretation which can cause us challenges. The mind is also wired to re-run thoughts and events when there is something unresolved within, which again is when we become cluttered and stuck.

Albert Einstein said:

There are many issues to not taking charge of your mind, paying attention to negative or destructive thoughts and allowing your thoughts to rule your life. Are thoughts aren’t necessarily the truth.

The impact of having a cluttered is constant tiredness and lack of energy. Stress levels will be higher, you will feel agitated more often and this can lead on to anxiety. When we are focused on negative aspects of the past, we are very likely to feel anxious or sad, hurt or even depressed for what has happened. If we keep the same thoughts going we are re-living the situation and experience and the repetition of this keeps us stuck. This type of thinking becomes compulsive and usually affects our sleep, our achievements and generally our happiness. These negative thoughts can be very distracting and it feels there is no control.

How do we de-clutter our minds then?

When we pay more attention to the type of thoughts we have, then we will have a greater chance of gaining more control. When we spot that we are beating ourselves up, we know that painful old memories or limiting beliefs have taken centre stage. A common result of this is a display of highly emotional responses and an internal feeling of being unsettled, or just ‘not right’.

A great step is to become more aware of our thoughts, and ultimately getting on a new path, is to notice how much and what kind of information is regularly in our thoughts and what kind of feelings are triggered. There will be great ones and also unhelpful ones.

Notice your own thoughts

Take some time now to notice and reflect on what kind of thoughts you have. What is on your mind? How you are feeling? Are you feeling inspired? Are you simply wondering what you are having for your dinner? Are you worried about something in your life? Are you re-running a difficult conversation you had with someone? Dig a little and truly notice what is in your mind.

Stop to write down whatever is on your mind, good and bad thoughts and feelings, formed or random, whatever is going round right now. When you become more aware of your thoughts and the quality of them, you can then begin to have more control.

When you have identified what kind of thoughts you have and about what, you can then separate them into thoughts that are in your control and thoughts that are out of your control. This exercise will help you to de-clutter your mind, let go of things that are outside your control and take action for the ones inside.

De-cluttering the mind can take any forms. We can be practice mindfulness and meditation, get outside into nature, take exercise, journaling your thoughts or spend time with friends although ultimately the challenges come when we are alone with our thought and letting them run wild. Be kind to yourself and remember when you are aware you have started to the journey to change.

Images from A Path Travelled by Alison Blackler (To be published in 2018)